We had the good fortune of connecting with Benjamin Shirley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Benjamin, what makes you happy? Why?
Composing music, helping others to the best of my abilities, realizing quality relationships based on truth and how to make that circle of connectedness wider. Why? because my “old life” of being an alcoholic/drug addict had me running around lying, cheating, and being a burden on everyone and everything that crossed my path. My new life of some 9 plus years allows me just a little peace and a ton of happiness. I am at a point in my life where I couldn’t even dream of these wonderful possibilities which present themselves each day.
Please tell us more about your career. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I am a lifelong musician, a working composer, and I am Director of Community Engagement with Street Symphony here in Los Angeles. I don’t know what sets me apart to tell you the truth. I work hard and try to be honest to the best of my ability. I get along well with others (I have NO time for the insane Hollywood antics of people pleasing and ball washing that goes along with “the game.” I did that already and it was a miserable existence). There’s a lot of good and good people here. Let’s connect with THAT.
Challenges? – Staying in gratitude every single day for this life and ALWAYS remember where I came from.
My brand? NOTHING was given to me. Everyone I was at the Midnight Mission with received the same opportunities I received. Everyone. I just happened to fall back into music in a way where I couldn’t have even imagined. From metal bass player to concert composer (I guess “they” call it classical) and film composer. I had a lot of help but I also worked my ass off. I don’t know if there is a brand. What do I want the world to know? Anything is possible. Helping others brings a freedom and joy you can’t even imagine. Lessons? It’s ok to be a good person and be yourself. There is only one of you yet we are all connected. Help someone. My story? – Ah, I’m a lucky guy. Thank you, God.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to a place where I received a new life. I would introduce them to the Skid Row community and give them an experience from the ground up. This is my place. This is where I received the grace. This beautiful community. That’s the best I can answer this question. Go down there with me a day and you will have your days filled until you leave.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
God, a program of rigorous action and honesty, Midnight Mission. If one of these things didn’t happen for me, I would be dead. There are numerous people that have helped me up to this writing. Where do I even begin?
Mark Hayes Photography